Pitso downplays Zungu's Rulani tweets ahead of titanic match against Pirates

File photo of Pitso Mosimane and Rulani Mokwena during the latter's time at Mamelodi Sundowns.
File photo of Pitso Mosimane and Rulani Mokwena during the latter's time at Mamelodi Sundowns.
Image: Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan

As if the upcoming showdown between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates did not already have a gripping sub-plot, recent suggestion that Rulani Mokwena was the brains behind the Brazilians’ success has added a twist that could make for an explosive clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Mokwena, the Pirates assistant coach, was hailed on social media by Bafana midfielder Bongani Zungu. The star overstated the contribution of Mokwena at the Soweto club and at his previous club, Sundowns.

“Coach Rulani has made Pirates a top team again! Coach Rulani u the boss… Trust me it’s him. Even at Sundowns – ask Keagan Dolly he’ll tell you,” Zungu tweeted after Bucs beat Polokwane City 2-1 on Tuesday night. He later apologised and deleted the tweet.

This has turned into a major talking point heading into the titanic clash on Saturday (3.30pm). Sundowns head coach Pitso Mosimane felt that the comments attributed to Zungu were inaccurate.

Mosimane said “Do I want to go there? Whether Rulani was here [and] we won trophies? When he was not here we still won trophies. I said Rulani will be better than me in future. He still has [the] time and will run his race. I just want to stay positive. I have a soft spot for Rulani and also for Pirates because I wore the [Bucs] badge [in 1989].”

The Tshwane outfit will enter the match on a high after thrashing Free State Stars 3-1 thanks to a Gaston Sirino brace and Jeremy Brockie strike on Wednesday night. Mosimane also expressed his doubt that Zungu was behind the tweets.

“I know my players, Bongani does not write English like that. My opinion... I don’t think Bongani wrote that,” he said.

The 2016 CAF Coach of the Year described how he brought Zungu to Sundowns in 2013, noting that he did not want the discourse to taint his relationship with the former Sundowns player.

“I went to Duduza on a Sunday and looked for him and I told him [to] come [and] sign a contract and change the life of your [Zungu] family. He came the next day to sign with us. We are now talking about a millionaire in euros, that’s where I want to focus.”

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